Zotero and Dropbox

Hi all,

I have a dropbox folder where I have created an archival folder system for my articles (i.e., multiple levels and folders). I also use zotero to group these files together, and to create citation lists, keep notes, etc.

Currently, if I download an article, I put it into my dropbox location first, then import it into zotero. The reason I do this is because I have only recently found out that when I open a PDF from zotero, it is not the same version as that kept in my dropbox (meaning, I usually edit my PDFs outside of zotero, only using zotero for citations).

Is there any way to streamline this process? Mainly, I'm looking for a way in which I can simply drop the files into zotero and have them backed up online (on dropbox, for example). Is there a way so that when I open PDFs in zotero, that they can be updated along all formats?
  • It kind of depends on exactly what you want to set up, but you'll want to use ZotFile - zotfile.com

    This thread gives a description of a workflow:

    and if you search for zotfile and dropbox on the forums you'll find more with various degrees of detail. Make sure you don't look at threads that are too old (they should mainly be about Zotero 4.0 or later) since information may be outdated.

    Hope that helps.
  • Well, really I'd like to know if it's possible to get the PDFs that I edit in Zotero to appear on the PDFs in my own file system, and vice versa. And if not, how to back-up those edited PDFs online without using Zotero's own storage system (if that's possible).

    I would do everything in Zotero if I was only sure that the PDFs that I update in Zotero were mirrored on my own filing system, rather than duplicating the file and placing it IN Zotero.
  • edited April 27, 2014
    right - and that's what ZotFile helps you to do by automatically moving any file that you add to Zotero to a custom location of your choice, e.g. in your dropbox folder. Did you look at this?

    If you do want to add links to existing files on your HD to Zotero, use "Add link to File" from Zotero, which will link to the file, rather than save a copy in Zotero's storage folder.

    edit: but in case that's not clear: by default, not using Zotfile, if you drag a PDF to Zotero, it stores a copy of the file in the Zotero data folder, so as long as you do that, there are two entirely separate copies of the PDF on your computer, and editing one won't affect the other.
  • Yes, I did take a look at it, but I'm rather new to Zotero, so still just feeling my way around.

    Rather than getting Zotfile to move a file added to Zotero, is it possible to get it to automatically link to a file that is added? (Rather than having to do it manually, after the fact, like you illustrate above.)

    My dropbox folder is full of multiple tiers of folders all holding articles, so I'm not sure that Zotfile would help in this respect as different articles would go to different places.
  • well, if you are adding the files manually anyway, you can just add them as links directy - either via "add link to file" or "attach link to file" to attach them to an existing item (the former under the green plus sign, the latter under the paper clip). Or what am I missing?
  • Ok, so just to be clear: if I attach a link to file, then the file that I open in Zotero will be the same as the other version I have? Meaning: if I open a linked PDF in Zotero and highlight/annotate it, will this show up when I view the PDF outside Zotero?
  • yup, exactly. A linked file will have a little chain icon over it, as opposed to stored files, which appear with a file-type specific icon.

    If that's relevant for your workflow, you can also link to files via drag&drop while holding modifier keys:
    Allow creation of linked files via drag-and-drop

    Ctrl-Shift-drag on Windows/Linux, Cmd-Option-drag on OS X
    Known issue: Mouse cursor feedback works reliably only on Linux
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